A loan of $23,100 helped to purchase the organic rice harvest of the association's members at a fair price.

Negros Organic Rice Industry Association, Inc.'s story

Ahmon and Leo (featured in the photo) are officers of Negros Organic Rice Industry Association, Inc. (NORIA), an association of organic rice farmers located on the island of Negros, Philippines. It is an SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) registered association with over 300 organic rice farmers from various parts of the island on its membership roster.

The majority of members have small landholdings – all below 4 hectares in size. Many have about a hectare, which they acquired from the government as Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

With no economies of scale, it would have been practical for them to follow conventional methods using chemical fertilizers paired with a good dose of pesticides to boost their production. But in spite of the obvious hurdles organic farming entails, these small farmers made a conscious choice to convert their land into organic rice farms because they believe that going back to nature will ensure a healthier lifestyle for themselves, their families and communities.

Many of these organic practitioners also believe that this is the way to ensure food security of the island. They also believe that moving away from chemical fertilizers and pesticides protects the environment and encourages the biodiversity of the island.

To ensure that the members benefit from the premium going organic provides, NORIA, led by its President, Ahmon, and Leo, head of the association’s Business Management Committee, is borrowing PHP 1,000,000.00 from NWTF. The group intends to use the money as a revolving credit line to purchase the organic rice harvest of its members. This ensures a fair price at the farm gate.

By consolidating the harvest and milling the rice themselves, NORIA is protecting the integrity and provenance of the organic rice, and this will enable it to market the certified organic rice at a premium. At the moment this certified organic rice is sold at the Negros Occidental Organic Market, but will soon be available in supermarkets in Negros and the neighboring islands.

At present, the association has about 300 hectares of certified organic rice farms, but with the boost in their buying capacity, they are hoping to be able to encourage more farmers to go organic and increase their land area up to 1,000 hectares by the end of the year.

NORIA has 3 main objectives: first, to strengthen the organic rice farming industry in Negros by providing training in the best organic farming practices, second – to strengthen economic development and sustainability of organic rice farmers through private-public partnerships; and third, to ensure that the price of organic rice is stable and fair at the farm gate.

NORIA is working hard to achieve Negros Island's vision of becoming the Organic Food Bowl of the Philippines.

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